Former Laiser Hill High School midfielder David Owino scored the winner for Mathare United as they beat home side Thika United 3-2 on Sunday afternoon.

Owino, who had just been promoted from the title-winning Mathare under-20 team, showed he is ready for the big stage when he stepped up 10 minutes from time to slam the ball home from close range.

Defender George Owino had cancelled out Christopher Oruchum’s early goal before Ronald Okoth took Mathare 2-1 up at the break. Sosthenes Idah restored parity in the second half, but Owino’s late act ensured a young Mathare side started the season with a win.

Coach Francis Kimanzi was full of praise for his youngsters and remains confident they can keep the performance throughout the season.

“What is important with these young players sometimes is to get that motivation. They have played very well today and it has built their confidence. It wasn’t the easiest of matches, but for a start getting the win was a plus for us,” Kimanzi noted.

Thika missed several of their key players and head coach James Nandwa was still impressed despite the loss.

“Most starters were unavailable with injury and seeing the patched-up team do this well, I am encouraged. It is sad to lose of course but there are so many positives,” Nandwa noted.

Nandwa’s injury list also grew just 18 minutes into the match after Nigerian forward Onwudi Chibueze limped off injured to be replaced by Timothy Ludda.

Thika got into the lead in the 23rd minute when Oruchum rose highest inside the box to head home a Baraka Badi corner. Mathare kept knocking on the door for an equaliser and Kaleb Wafula was forced to keep his side in the game.

He leapt high well in the 37th minute to tip over a header from Chris Oduor, but he picked up the ball inside his own net two minutes later after Owino headed home from a corner. A minute to the break, Okoth made it 2-1 for Mathare, tapping home after Cliff Nyakeya’s shot came off the bar.

On the hour mark, Idah drew the sides back level, looping a header over Mathare keeper Wycliffe Kasaya, who had come out to claim Benson Iregi’s corner. Iregi had missed a great chance just a minute earlier from the counter and Idah’s goal wiped some blush off his face.

Mathare, though, got the winner late on with Owino placing the ball inside the far post from a Nyakeya pass.